Is Ievgen Khytrov next in line?

Is Ievgen Khytrov next in line?

0 comments 📅15 December 2014, 11:04

Gennady Golovkin, Sergey Kovalev, Vasyl Lomachenko, Ruslan Provodnikov and Evgeny Gradovich are all part of a recent revolution of boxers that hail from Russia or regions of the former Soviet Union. Middleweight hopeful Ievgen Khytrov, who faces Louis Rose tonight at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa, Oklahoma could be the next in line.

“We call it the ‘Ukrainian Invasion,’” says Rory Donadio, Ievgen’s manager, with a laugh. “It’s been great working with Ievgen; he’s 6-0 with six knockouts. He’s come a long way with Gary Stark [Sr.] and Andre Rozier.”

Khytrov, whose bout with Rose is part of the beIN Sports broadcast (9 p.m., ET) is on the fast track. Just how fast will be determined by how he performs tonight.

“He’s 26 years old and he’s had 500 amateur fights and I’ve seen him in every one of his pro fights so far and he looks like he can step up and I’m looking forward to seeing him,” says Chris Middendorf, the vice president and matchmaker for Iron Mike Productions, which promotes Khytrov.

When asked if he believed Khytrov’s ceiling was that of “GGG” or the “Krusher,” Middendorf says simply, “Yes, I do. At this point, honestly, the sky is the limit. He hasn’t had that many pro fights but the reason why his manager believes in him and why we’re putting him in a tough fight with Louis Rose because it’s going to give us a good indication of how he’s progressed to this point and what he’s capable of next.

“It’s not a crossroads fight but it’s a fight that’s really going to give everyone an indication how good he is.”

“’He’s going to be a world champion,” says Khytrov’s co-trainer Rozier, flatly. When asked if that would be sooner rather than later, he states, “Midway between with enough time to develop. Gary Stark and I have been on top of him for almost a year now and we’re making steady headway. He’s a fantastic athlete, a diligent, dedicated worker. I couldn’t ask for much more out of an athlete.”

Stark adds, “When you describe the word, ‘fighter’ – that’s this kid. This kid’s a fighter; he was born to fight. This kid is a fighter. He’s entertaining; when you watch this kid fight, you just want to watch because he’s the meaning of ‘fighter,’ that kid.”

Khytrov, who represented Ukraine in the 2012 Olympics and won the middleweight gold medal at the 2011 World Championships, burst onto the scene back in early August when he blew out the 17-1 Willie Fortune in less than a round on a nationally-televised show at the CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. Before that, he halted the respected fringe Chris Chatman in three. To face a fighter like Rose this early in his career is telling.

“The Ukrainian Lion” who now lives in Brooklyn is still grasping the English language and says of his career pace, “That’s up to my manager; don’t ask me about it,” while laughing. But he does believe he can be moved up the ladder quickly, “I think so; I work hard.”

This much is clear; despite his amateur credentials, Khytrov’s hard-hitting style is much more suited to the paid ranks. “Professional boxing is easier than amateur,” he opined. “Professional style I like more than amateur style and that’s why when I come to box pro, it’s easy for me.”

Donadio says, “I’d like to see how he does Friday night and then I’ll make my move after that with the promoters and the trainers. I feel that he’ll win convincingly and we’ll go from there. We’re looking to make the move from 12-0 to 15-0. I think two more fights and then we’ll go to ten [rounder]s.”

There’s no doubt this part of the world is now a major supplier of professional talent and this pipeline isn’t going to stop anytime soon. Donadio, who has a couple of other boxers from this region, says with a chuckle, “There’s a factory there; it’s like a Mexican factory out there in Eastern Europe.”

Fighters like Vassiliy Jirov were trailblazers; then came the Klitschko brothers and now the likes of Golovkin and Kovalev have laid their foundation in the States. They have paved the way for fighters like Khytrov.

“Yeah, I always think about it,” he says. “I’ll try to do better.”


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